I’m down here in Miami for the Art Basel festivities (check back this weekend for more pics and goss) and last night at a dinner for Louis Vuitton, Cindy Crawford showed up and put every other hussy at the Raleigh Hotel to shame. At one point, when the legendary hair dresser Oribe turned up, she did this sexy shimmy in her stiletto heels — in the sand — that left me gobsmacked. Not that this was the first time that I’d spoken to Cindy. I caught up with my fellow Midwesterner in the issue of V that’s on stands now for a fashion story where she cavorted with the handsome Clemente in the woods in Brooklyn wearing menwear. The story is reprinted here, as well as a sultry video from the photo shoot. (Click here to see the full story and more of Sebastien Faena’s glorious pictures of Cindy.) In our interview we talked about everything from West Coast dinner time to Harry Styles, but the part that I think was more pertinent is when she says that she’s a better model today than she ever was. Last night, there wasn’t a man who would have disagreed.
There’s a reference in modeling that captures a certain era: “B.C.,” as in “Before Cindy.” Cindy Crawford ignited the fashion world when she appeared on the cover of Vogue at the tender age of 21, with her killer bod, signature birthmark, and otherworldly appeal. Originally from a small town in Illinois, she would go on to become one of the most super of all the supermodels, a muse to Gianni Versace, and a household name, with her stints as MTV’s House of Style host and spokeswoman for Revlon and Pepsi.
The multi-hyphenate model, now 47, is still in demand in front of the cameras, and has launched her own multimillion dollar businesses too—making her more alluring than ever. Cindy told us that she feels like she’s a better model now—and by the looks of these photos, we’re inclined to agree with her.
What’s it like to be back in New York?
CINDY CRAWFORD When I arrived and got to the hotel I walked to a little market to get some things for a protein shake the next day, and I was reminded of the city’s energy, that buzz. I lived in New York for 15 years. I miss it sometimes. It’s very different from my life in Malibu. You don’t walk in Malibu…or else people think your car is broken down! In L.A. you go to dinner at 7 pm and in New York you go to dinner at 9 pm. But then in the Midwest it’s 5:30 pm.
That’s right, you’re a Midwestern girl. I’m a Midwestern boy. Maybe life in California is a mix of the people from the East Coast with the laid-back lifestyle of the middle of the country.
CC I grew up in a small town in Illinois where you never locked your door. I didn’t even have a house key. Midwestern people like us are nice, sometimes to a fault. You smile at strangers. But then you go to New York and everyone is hustling and in a hurry with their heads down. I love New York, but it’s a city of excesses. Too much of everything…the good and the bad. There are great restaurants, but you don’t know where to eat because there are so many choices! It was perfect for my 20s, when I was working so much, but I wouldn’t have known how to raise kids in an apartment.
Speaking of your kids, my assistant is obsessed with Harry Styles and she told me he came over for an impromptu pizza party with your daughter. What happened there?
CC Oh, that? [laughs] He stopped by to say hi when my kids and I were making pizzas. My kids were doing their own little pizzas and they couldn’t slide them off the pan. Harry goes, “Well, did you put down enough flour so they wouldn’t stick?” And my husband says, “How in the world do you know that?” and my little girl chimes in, “Oh, he used to work for a bakery, Dad. Everyone knows that.”
And started blushing, I bet.
CC Are you kidding? My daughter is twelve. That was bigger than her birthday!
Your kids are gorgeous. I know one of them did a Versace kids’ campaign. What are your thoughts on them getting into the family business?
CC That opportunity felt organic. I worked for Versace a lot in my career and I knew Mert and Marcus were the photographers and Donatella would be there. That’s a dream team. So I figured if she ever wanted to do it this would be a good experience, and it was. We had to drive three hours to the shoot and she had to miss a friend’s birthday party, and then we had to wait in the trailer for three more hours because they shot Gisele first. At the end, she thought, “This is boring.” And I said, “This is work.” It was a good lesson. If she wants to do it, I’m a good guide. I can help her make good decisions, but now I think she’d rather be an actress.
How do you reflect on that supermodel era?
CC What a wonderful time for me. That was a fun time to be a model. It was a lot of focus on fashion and how all these worlds were colliding. MTV was bringing music and fashion and television together. It felt really fun, and we were all really busy and really making money.
Do you ever use that word, “supermodel”?
CC In a tongue-in-cheek way, maybe. At first I found it silly. Do we change into capes and tights in phone booths? But with anything, the more you hear it, the more it seeps into your language. What it means to me is that before us models were more two-dimensional—mostly nameless faces on magazine covers. We were the tipping point. Some girls before us, like Twiggy and Lauren Hutton, were making the shift. But what was unique about our group was that there were five of us and we were all very different but looked good together. Is it five or seven? I never know who to include. Depends on who you ask, I guess. It was a moment when it felt fresh and different and new.
Were you aware of it in the moment?
CC If I had to label my supermodel moment, I would say it was that Versace show when Naomi, Linda, Christy, and I all came out together. We had just done the George Michael video for “Freedom,” and George was in the front row, and we came out skipping and holding hands. It felt like the stars had aligned. But then the next day we were all on another plane going to another city to do another job.
Did you ever want to slow down?
CC I remember thinking, What am I going to do when I’m 25? Or 30? Or 40? We kept pushing the sell-by date.
Are you still gratified by the job now?
CC I’m not doing it every day anymore. At this point in my life I’ve done more photoshoots than I can count, so I like something new. I’ve had people say on a shoot, “This is so Helmut Newton,” and I think, No, not really. I knew Helmut. The part of modeling I like is telling a story with an image. Modeling is a skill, and you become better at it the more you do it. Understanding clothes and lights and your face and angles…you don’t lose that, even though other things come into your life.
More so than the others, you managed to brand yourself. Was that intentional or was it clever management?
CC In the beginning it was more like, why not? I’ll try MTV, that sounds cool. But my agents were telling me not to do it. They said I could make more money doing other jobs. But they were wrong, and House of Style opened a lot of doors. When I did Playboy, it was a big deal because I was also in Vogue. I trusted Herb Ritts, which is why I did it. So those things worked out in my favor, and it gave me the confidence to go and do other projects—but not everything worked out! I did a movie that was successful for me personally, but not successful in many other ways. Choosing to do my exercise video was the beginning of making deliberate choices to do my own projects that were authentic to me, and that led to my skin care line. That was a really hard decision, because I had been with Revlon for a long time. But it was time for me to do my own thing, and now it feels like I have a real business. I love that.
You’re a business tycoon!
CC I had my whole modeling career, which was about learning the business. For the last 10 to 15 years, I’ve been building a business.
But the businesswoman still knows what to do in front of the camera.
CC I’m a better model at 47 than I was when I was 22, although I wish I still had the body I had at 22! Ah, youth is wasted on the young.
Waif? What waif? These girls got curves. Or so I decided with my friends at Mr Porter. I recently wrote a story for them that explained why boobs and a bubbly personality seem chic again. Here is the story, and perhaps just as importantly, here are Karlie, Candice, Joan, Kate and even Gisele with some other of fashion’s feisty females in never before seen pictures from my archives.
The return of the curvy, girlier model is not a new phenomenon. When the Victoria’s Secret poster girl Ms Adriana Lima turned up in a Prada show a few seasons ago, it was clear that chicks with boobs and butts were making a comeback. But last month, during the Jean Paul Gaultier show at Paris Fashion Week, something happened that made me welcome with open arms the return of a 1990s obsession with girl power: Ms Karlie Kloss stood on a runway, Voguing. Celebrating her athletic curves (regrettably, she was not in a cone-shaped bra) and Madonna’s own brand of sex-fuelled female empowerment (which I think Ms Miley Cyrus may have taken notes on), she framed her face with her angular appendages before stomping down the runway. The crowd went wild.
Long live Ms Kate Moss, but I’m happy that the waif silhouette is dead. Ms Kloss was on the cover of Italian Vogue in December 2011 for an editorial shoot by Mr Steven Meisel titled “Body by Kloss.” My favorite shot of her was the one in which she wore little more than a hat and killer heels. Not that Ms Kloss is the only top model who knows that powerful shapes – which, for the record, are much different than untoned, jiggly extra pounds – are both fashionable and fun to look at nowadays. Another one of my favorite vixen models? Ms Joan Smalls, the Puerto Rican stunner and face of Estée Lauder who is just as sexy as she is saucy. I’ve always thought that Ms Daria Werbowy had the best rack in the business. And don’t even get me started on Ms Candice Swanepoel, the South African Victoria’s Secret Angel whose body is a rock hard hourglass. And believe me when I say it’s rock hard: there’s a video on YouTube in which she and her trainer show me how to get the perfect Angel body before the lingerie company’s annual fashion show extravaganza.
Cindy, Claudia, Naomi, Stephanie: all these girls had the sorts of bodies that looked as if they were sculpted by gods. (Not following me? Those girls’ last names are Crawford, Schiffer, Campbell and Seymour, respectively. Start Googling.) These were the original supermodels, and there wasn’t a waif among them. So, we are left to wonder why fashion has returned to their curvy aesthetic. Some say that in these troubling times we are nostalgic for a more comfortable era. And what was more comfortable than Ms Crawford in a Pepsi ad in the 1990s? I wrote an article for Harper’s Bazaar a few years ago that fashion’s new obsession with sexed-up clothes was a result of the economy: sex always sells. And it’s free.
But recently, I had another thought: as more and more straight men become more aware of the fashion industry (oh yes, the metrosexual is here to stay), their influence has seeped into it. This isn’t solely a gay man’s gig any more, and we need to think about the sort of girl that men find sexy. Meaning: most guys probably don’t want to ponder over 14-year-old girls who are so skinny they have facial hair. For example, my favorite girl I met while in Paris this season was Ms Andreea Diaconu, a Romanian with curves and an even better attitude. She’s smiley, sexy, tells a good joke. She’s the sort of girl that I wanted to immediately set up all my straight guy friends with because I thought she was so awesome. (But don’t get your hopes up. Turns out she has a boyfriend. And he’s a doctor.)
We can thank one woman for the fashion world’s return to the bodacious body in the post-grunge era: Ms Gisele Bündchen. Have you ever tried to have a conversation with the Brazilian bombshell? Let me tell you what it’s like: she talks a million miles a minute and you just sit there and listen and act like you understand, even if you don’t. Because she’s just that gorgeous. Her body moves and her lips open and close and her perfect hair gets flipped back and forth. But who cares? You’re talking to a goddess. She’s paved a curvy path for the rest of the world’s saucy vixens.
Which brings me to you, Ms Kate Upton. At the party for Ms Carine Roitfeld’s documentary, Mademoiselle C, in New York in September, a few friends and I found ourselves pushing away chairs to create a dance floor in the the Pool Room at The Four Seasons. At one point, when Mr Kanye West and Ms Roitfeld had sequestered themselves into the corner, the crowds parted and in came Ms Upton, the newest of the world’s sexy supermodels. Yes, she looks like Ms Marilyn Monroe. But what I didn’t know is that she can dance like Ms Jennifer Beals, or whatever the woman in Flashdance was called. She sashayed toward us and she shimmied and shaked, and, for a minute, the whole world stopped.
Captions, from top: Candice Swanepoel running around Boston; me and the super curvy Kate Upton; a gaggle of curly girls in Peru; me and Gisele; Joan Smalls and Lily Donaldson at fashion week in Paris; Candice and another girl who knows about curves, Kim Kardashian; the super sweet Andreea Diaconu; Gisele, with a pregnancy curve – and still radiant; Karlie Kloss in Paris; me seduced by Joan
This is my friend Hayley Bloomingdale multitasking on three mobile devices at the Met gala earlier this year. She is a sweet, soft spoken California transplant who lives in New York and works at Moda Operandi. She is also one of the funniest young women I’ve ever met. (Why is it always funnier when a dirty joke comes from a girl with a blowout and wearing a ball gown?) Anyway, at a recent fundraising dinner I had the good fortune of sitting next to her. Full disclosure: My primary phone is a Blackberry and I can barely get through an Instagram posting without assistance. But Hayley quite accurately told me that there were some glaring absences in the world of Emoji’s. She even had a list. So, herein is a list we compiled of symbols and icons the iPeople need to get on. Got some more? Leave your suggestions in the comments.
- The middle finger
- G-rated sex positions (Could be illustrated by wildlife)
- More birds in general
- Exotic fish in general
- Fluffy, adorable sheep
- Ethnic diversity in general
- Fingers crossed
- A full pizza, not just a slice
- Electric chair
- Marijuana leaf
- Male twinsies
- Cowboy hat
- Gold chain necklace
- Swimming pool
- Convertible car
- More bridal options
- A bloody knife
- More comedic weapons in general
- Girl with lots of shopping bags
- The Obama family
- Michael Jordan doing a slam dunk
- Talk to the hand face
- More crustaceans in general
- Native American headdress (We agreed since I’m part Cherokee Indian I can use this)
- Sheriffs badge
- Witch hat
Did we miss one? Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments section.
My opinion on Angelina Jolie has vacillated in the decade-and-a-half-or-so that she has been a part of my cultural consciousness. Though, I can remember when I first became aware of the pouty-lipped Hollywood next of kin: The silver, sparkly, low-cut, body skimming Randolph Duke dress she wore to collect her Golden Globe Award for portraying late 90′s supermodel Gia Carangi for a TV movie will be forever engrained in my brain. (I remember having to then go to a magical place called Blockbuster, which doesn’t exist anymore, to rent the movie, which also had a profound effect on me.) If you don’t know that dress, it’s worth a Google search.
In the years that followed, there were a variety of transformations. I was into her when she was Goth and weird and had black hair and made edgy movies (forget ‘Girl, Interrupted,’ has everyone seen ‘Hackers’?). But then I was sort of over her when she made out with her brother at the Oscars. Not because I think it’s weird to make out with a sibling, but because I thought it was a cheap gimmick to get attention. I felt like, ‘Listen, bitch, you just won an Oscar, you’re going to be in the paper tomorrow regardless.’
It was hard to shake that interview where she came out of a limo at a movie premiere and told a reporter that she had just had sex with Billy Bob Thornton inside of it. The poor driver. (I was unmoved by the admission that the two had created necklaces for each other of their own blood. I like a statement accessory.) But I was into her as Lara Croft, because that’s badass.
I’m a Jennifer Aniston fan, so I was none to pleased when she wedged her fat lips into the middle of that relationship and split them up, though I have to admit her and Brad Pitt made a fabulous couple. And was I the only person who really enjoyed Mr. and Mrs. Smith? Even today, if that’s an option on an airplane, I rewatch that movie. When she’s in the white men’s oxford and he’s only in boxer shorts is cinematic gold.
My jury is still out on the double mastectomy she had last year. I don’t know enough about breast cancer to weigh in on the benefits of that, and whether or not her decision to be so public about her surgery will encourage or confuse other women about what to do if they have a history of the disease in their family. At the very least, it seems like a whole lot of trouble to go through for a boob job. (I’m making a joke here. Don’t leave me nasty comments.)
Then came her humanitarian effort. In the beginning, I wanted to be behind it. But one has to wonder if the girl that fucked Billy Bob Thornton in the limo just a few years before really had her heart in it. And despite the documentary films and the campaigns and the fat donation checks, I still had a teeny tiny reservation. Until I saw this video. Angelina, you’ve wooed me over here. In the video she’s accepting the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the 2013 Governors Awards, which is an award that has previously gone to Oprah, Liz Taylor, Paul Newman and a bunch of other successful actors with hearts of gold. In it, she thanks Brad, who is still hot even with a bit of older distinguished man bloat, and one of her sons. And then she thanks her late mother for teaching her the importance of living a life beyond Hollywood, and that true success is measured beyond a box office. For this momma’s boy? I was putty in her hands.
Sure, she’s an actress and delivering a good speech is part of the job. But I believe her here, and that’s because I wanted to. I want Angelina, who has been through so much (drugs, a mother dying, bad relationships, do I have to bring up the fucking Billy Bob again) to have come out the other side. I want her to want to make the world a better place in whatever way she can. And if that involves a bit of grandstanding and Saint Angelina photo shoots, I’m down. So, as of right now, I’m a fan. Again. Maybe I will go and get that mammogram after all.
The Victoria’s Secret fashion show is one of my favorite things on earth. There, I said it. And not because I’m particularly impressed by boobs. Though, I will say, the bodies in that fashion show defy grafity and all logical thinking. (And they should. As a friend of a few angels, I know how hard they work to get their bodies in VS show shape.) And in the past I’ve done fun videos with these ladies. I’ll never forget the time that Candice Swanepoel worked me out moments before she hit the runway. So this season, I asked Alessandra Ambrosio to teach me the three tricks to being an oft duty angel. They are: Sell the garment, never stop working out no matter where you are, and know how to pose. But hearing it from her pouty lips is much better than reading it here. Without further ado, here’s my video with Ale. And as a bonus, I threw in a few pics I snapped at the VS afterparty on here too. Something for you, boys!
Captions from top: Karlie and Constance; Izabel bringing sex back; me and Alessandra Ambrosio; Lily Aldridge and Harley; the Kloss klan; Candice and Lily Donaldson; me with Jourdan and Cara
When God created Gisele, he broke the mold. To be in her presence is to be intoxicated. That face, that body, the energy, the joy of life: They just don’t make ‘em like her. So, when WSJ. Magazine asked me to interview her for the cover of the Innovators issue, I said yes with the giddiness of a schoolboy who found his father’s stash of dirty magazines. I stopped by the shoot in LA when she was carooning with Daft Punk, who I could tell had big smiles on their faces even through their trademark masks. And afterward we shared a green juice and talked about how she went from a bombshell in a bra to the world’s most successful supermodel.
GISELE BÜNDCHEN MAYbe the most powerful model in the world—but that’s not what she prefers to call herself. “I’m self-employed,” says the 33-year-old Brazilian. “[Modeling has] always been a business.” This year, she topped ‘s list of highest-paid models for the seventh year in a row, beating out the likes of Kate Moss and Miranda Kerr by tens of millions of dollars. The magazine reported that she made $42 million, though she rolls her eyes at the figure. “Who are they speaking to when they come up with these numbers? Not my accountant, that’s for sure.” Whether the number strikes her as high or low, she leaves unsaid.
How did Bündchen, who was scouted at a shopping mall in her native Rio Grande do Sul when she was 14, rise from mere model to multiplatform business tycoon? Selectivity, she says. After becoming the most in-demand face and body on the runways of Paris and Milan in the late 1990s—in 1999, put her on the cover and declared “The Return of the Sexy Model”—she developed a knack for taking exactly the right steps in her career at exactly the right times.
High risk yields high reward, and nothing was more risky than her decision to sign with Victoria’s Secret in 2000, making her one of the first in her field to bridge the once-taboo divide between luxury fashion editorials and commercial work. It was a canny maneuver that proved light-years ahead of the rest of the fashion industry, though such high-low blurring has since become the norm. After Bündchen signed with Victoria’s Secret, it ballooned from a prosaic bra brand into a lingerie powerhouse with a world-famous fashion show—ultimately helping to net her a reported $25 million per year. (She wore the company’s famed Angel wings for the last time in 2007.) She inked lucrative deals with luxury brands such as Chanel and David Yurman. Anne Nelson, her agent since she was 17, says that in Brazil, “she is a god.”
These days, Bündchen is picky about which jobs she takes not because she’s cultivating an image but because of domestic obligations. In 2009, she married Tom Brady, quarterback of the New England Patriots, and is now mother to Benjamin, 3, and Vivian, 8 months, and stepmother to Brady’s son, 6-year-old John Edward Thomas, from his previous relationship. “When you’re by yourself you only make decisions for yourself. But when you have a family, you’re making decisions for your whole family.” She now turns down multimillion-dollar jobs if they require her to leave the country or have obligatory personal appearance days in the contract.
When asked to describe how she manages the roles of wife, mother and supermodel, she offers a metaphor: Ginga, the basic back-and-forth swaying step of Brazilian martial art capoeira. “You’re always trying to balance everything, but it can’t be 100 percent all the time. Sometimes when you are a great mom, you’re not so great at your job. And then when you’re good at your job, you’re not so great of a mom or a good wife. It’s a dance that never stops. But it’s beautiful. I’ve never been happier.”
Bündchen’s packed days are meticulously organized on her iPhone with the Cozi app, which synchs the entire family schedule, from kids’ play dates to her press appointments to Brady’s football practices. Every single hour is accounted for and each family member is color-coordinated: She is purple, Brady is blue, and when the whole family needs to be at the same place, it’s in red. “I know what everyone is doing every second of the day,” says Bündchen.
Most mornings start around 6 a.m. Before heading either to her home office, where she works on her own fashion and accessories lines, or to a modeling job, she spends time with the children. (The couple has homes in Boston, New York and Los Angeles.) Vivian comes with her to photo shoots. “If I’m with my kids, I’m not answering my phone. You can’t reach me. With my husband, too. If I’m at work, then I’m at work. If I’m with you, I’m with you. I am in that moment, and there is nothing else.” The family prefers dinner at home, and Bündchen and Brady are rarely seen out at social occasions. One exception is the annual Met Costume Institute gala in New York City, where they are consistently one of the glossiest couples on the red carpet.
While work and family commitments dominate Bündchen’s schedule, she says her trick to keeping it together is her hour. “It’s important to me to have some time for myself. So one hour a day is mine. It may have to be at 4 a.m. or whenever the kids are napping or not home, but it’s in the schedule. I read a book. I meditate. I make something. I need to nourish myself in order for me to give to everyone else.”
Halloween ain’t what it used to be. I can remember when I was growing up back home in Missouri it was a small street affair. The year I remember most vividly was the one I made my own King Tut mask out of cardboard with magic markers and accessorized with my mother’s fake gold jewelry. I walked around with my equally budget-ly costumed friends’ suburban St. Louis neighborhood carrying pillow cases and cheap orange plastic pumpkins that we filled with candy. But we had to work for it: Did anyone else have to tell jokes at the doors to get the sweet stuff? That’s Missouri for you. No such thing as a free lunch. Or a Halloween candy.
When I first moved to New York, I realized that this holiday is a much bigger deal. Making one’s own costume? Pff. People in New York don’t even do their own makeup. (Poor Pat McGrath. The makeup artist gets harassed to do everyone’s faces. Which is why I just showed up a part with my makeup and made her do it on the spot. More on that later.) Nowadays, it’s even worse. Or better, if you’re into dressing up and public drunkenness. Halloween has become Halloweek, an entire week of parties. Some are intimate and private and others are sponsored and promotional.
There’s an equation to the amount of fun I have on Halloween that’s proportionate to what I’m wearing. Namely, how good my costume is will affect how fabulous I feel whilst out with friends. (But, wait, isn’t that always the case on any night in New York?) This year, I was happy because I didn’t have to think about it. Last year, I had been proactive and bought a train conductor’s uniform but didn’t get to wear it because of Hurrican Sandy. (It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since that fateful week. It feels like yesterday, and read my Sandy blog post here.) So, that’s one costume, done. And my other costume I found when I was cleaning my closet when I was home in Missouri this summer: A fabulous black tuxedo with tails that was very Eddie Munster. Done, done.
Now, on to the extravaganzas. In New York, Alison Sarofim owns Halloween. Her annual party is always on the top of everyone’s list and she doesn’t mess around when it comes to themes. This year it was French Polynesia, which is why she was wearing a giant leaf all night. It was divine. I, unfortunately, couldn’t partake in the theme because of the aforementioned left over costume from last year, but I’m sure one day they’ll have lots of trains in French Polynesia. Marjorie Gubelmann brought my favorite Texan, Lynn Wyatt, who had on my leopard print than all over New Jersey combined. I spent most of the night sat between Pat McGrath, who looked divine in colorful makeup and orchid hair, and Joan Smalls, who somehow managed to look drop dead sexy whilst wearing a polyester hot pink monster costume with a polyester hot pink wig. Pat touched up my makeup through the night, and she had better not send me an invoice. We sat on a couch and held court. Hi, Valentino! Hi, Craig McDean! The highlight? A selfie with Woody Allen. Most people who come to Halloween parties not in costume are spoil sports. But Woody can do what Woody wants.
A few days later I had to come to London for a story, but I was happy to see that my mates in London had finally realized the joys of a costumed holiday. Or maybe it’s that the Brits need no excuse for fancy dress parties and public drunkenness – whatever the case, I was happy to discover that there was a lot of Halloween options in the British capital. UNICEF did a big ‘do where my friend Lily Allen performed. Hats off to Lily Alien, which was her costume. Painted herself green and even managed to find a green Chanel bag to accessorize the package with. That black tuxedo came in handy in London because I went as Derek Munster, the perfect companion to my friend Dasha Addams. Again, even with white face and a black polyester hair, Dasha looked divine. Who are these girls?
Captions, from top: A selfie with Woody Allen; Lily Allen as Lily Alien; the hostess with the mostest, Alison Sarofim; Bernard Smith and Joan Smalls; Elizabeth Saltzman and Patrick Cox in London; Valentino and Giancarlo Giammetti; Marjorie and Lynn; Petey Brant; Camilla al Fayed and Dasha; Jenna Lyons and Courtney Crangi; Atlanta de Cadenet; a very charming Camilla; Tabitha Simmons and RJ King; George Barrett and Pixie Geldof; Jessica Diehl; Sofia Sanchez and Alex de Betak being very creative as Guns N Roses; Harley Viera Newton, another hot dog on the street; Noor Fares and a friend; a martini and a piggy; Carlos Mota as a bird of paradise; Jean Pegozzi; Joan, me, RJ, Pat and Tabitha; Aimee Phillips; rolling with Joan; when I felt really dirty at the end of the party; Alison in action; Dasha, Lily and me at the end of a long London night
The piers on New York’s West Side Highway are dreary. Some are half sunk into the Hudson River, others are sanctioned off my chain link fences and rusty locks. But leave it to Giorgio Armani to turn a stretch of concrete that juts out from 15th Street into one of the most glamorous venues in Manhattan. That’s what happened last night when the designer, still handsome as ever at a spritely 79 years, kicked off his One Night Only celebration with a retrospective, fashion show and late night dance party.
Ricky Martin. Those two words are enough to put a pep in my step. But the Pop star wasn’t the only bold faced name that came out to support the Italian fashion icon. Hilary Swank, Renee Zellweger, Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorcese are only some of the people that made their way down the champagne colored tunnel to the fashion show and party. (It was the first time Leo’s lady friend Toni Garrn had watched a fashion show.)
What was so remarkable about the traveling exhibition and fashion show – despite the fact that it lasted more than half an hour, one of the longest fashion shows in recent fashion history – was the unparalleled glamour. Yes, Mr. Armani redefined what it meant to be a red carpet designer, but in the annals of fashion history what most of us associate with the designer is the rounded shoulders of his menswear and his introduction of the female power suit. In my head, Jodie Foster, who wore Armani to collect more than a couple accolades, and a couple of Oscars too, will always be linked with the rigid modernism that we have come to associate with the Armani brand. And I even told Mr. Armani he should send a couple of things to self proclaimed pantsuit aficionado Hilary Clinton when she makes this presidential run in 2016.
But what Mr. Armani (we dare not call him Giorgio to his face) told me before the gala when I stopped by the Armani showroom on Fifth Avenue he was most proud of with this show and exhibition is the more creative looks that he has put together. Remember that iridescent space aged spiky crystal ball ensemble that Lady Gaga wore to the Grammy’s a few years ago? We’re talking about that stuff. In this existing exhibition there are monochromatic embroidered and embellished jumpsuits and traffic cone orange crocodile column dresses. These are the pieces from the designer’s fantasies, which he was so kind to bring into our reality.
Following a vernisage of the exhibition, we meandered down the plush carpeted pier to take a seat for a fashion show of the greatest hits collection of his first decade in the couture business. After dominating the ready to wear market and branching into accessories and home (Armani Casa is still one of my favorite shops), ten years ago he started the Armani Prive line, which became the incubator of his couture dreams. And it was all here, including the seaweed green collection from a few years ago, the Asian baton show from two seasons ago, and this season’s beige decadence, which my favorite couture show of the season.
The last stop on the One Night Only experience was the converted nightclub where Mark Ronson came back from DJ retirement to spin some records. I had a few drinks, but I can still remember a sick Amy Winehouse remix. There was risotto, of course, and other passed pasta dishes, but I made the rookie mistake of following the pretty ladies around the dance floor and forgot to eat, which explains why I’m typing this with one eye open this morning. Yet, a little headache isn’t so bad after a night like that. After all, if you’re going to do ‘hangover chic,’ make it Armani.
Captions, from top: Me and Ricky Martin; Roberta Armani and Douglas Booth; all the girls are here: Annabelle Dexter-Jones, Atlanta de Cadenet, Laura Love and Harley Viera Newton; Stephen Dorff and Caroline Winberg; the Brant boys; me and Toni Garrn; Daria Strokous has legs and she knows how to use them; BryanBoy and Jen Brill; one of the couture looks on the Armani runway; Emily DiDonato and Caroline; Isabel Lucas and Maggie Betts; Jeremiah Brent and Marjorie Gubelmann; James Penfold and Paola Kudacki; Sofia Sanchez, my parttime drinking partner of the night; Sasha Pesko and Vladimir Roitfeld; me and Mr. Armani before the show.
Miley and me with some friends (from left: Karen Elson, Emma Roberts, Karlie Kloss, Cara Delevingne and Rita Ora) at the Met gala this year.
First, a warning: I’m a Miley Cyrus fan. At the base of her work, beyond the criticisms and the open letters, is a young girl who wants to show everybody a good time. And in these times of trials and tribulations, Miley, I appreciate that. So I don’t want to get into a debate on the feminist implications of her artistic expression, no matter how relevant they may be. (There’s a blog for that, but this ain’t it.) I have watched with a smile on my face as she has transformed from the Disney princess into a modern Pop icon. I was behind her on the haircut. I was behind her on the butched up, blinged out, bad ass bitch makeover. I was behind her on the Twerking. Well, not literally behind the Twerking. I’m not sure I have the balance to brace that.
All of this is to say that when Harper’s Bazaar sent me out to LA to do the cover story on my girl Miley for the October issue, I was in a taxi to JFK airport before we put the phone down. She is a defining icon of this generation, whether we like it or not. (Simmer down, Sinead.) So, behold my story with the one-and-only Miley.
Miley Cyrus is wearing an oversize sweatshirt and nothing else, curled up in an enormous trailer parked outside Soundstage 24 at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles. She’s just unpacked her “kit,” which is what the 20-year-old pop star calls the gym bag full of over-the-top, blingy, fabulous accessories that she brings everywhere. There are Chanel logo suspenders and belts, Versace Medusa necklaces and brooches, spiked stilettos, hats, and miles of shiny gold chains. “I never know when I’m going to be like, ‘Photo shoot!’ And need some weird stuff to whip out.” What if there’s a sudden swarm of paparazzi? Or worse: “What if I get to a photo shoot and the stylist just sucks? So I bring my own shit.” Cyrus, whose fourth album, Bangerz, is out this month, today is filming an MTV promotion—and, sure enough, when she’s dressed in a tight white crop top and tiny black shorts, she dips into her kit to layer on gold necklaces and a low-slung vintage Chanel chain belt.
It’s been a year since “I started trying to take over the world,” she says, unknowingly paraphrasing a comment that Madonna made on American Bandstand nearly three decades ago, when she herself was an over-accessorized twentysomething. (In 1984, asked by Dick Clark what her future plans were, Madonna responded, “To rule the world.”) It all began when the fresh-faced Disney star shaved the sides and back of her head, leaving a shock of platinum on top. “It changed everyone else’s life more than it changed mine,” Cyrus says with a laugh about her new ‘do. But she’s not kidding: Since wrapping the Hannah Montana series in 2011, the little girl who led a double life on a top-rated kids’ TV show has reemerged in the public sphere as a provocative pop sensation.
The new look apparently had been brewing for some time. Cyrus released the album Can’t Be Tamed during her final year as Hannah Montana. When the series wrapped, she semiretired. “I took off and I just wanted to party. I worked so hard, and I wanted to buy a house and just chill.” She moved out of the house she shared with her parents, the Southern crooner Billy Ray (he of “Achy Breaky Heart” fame) and Tish Cyrus, and in with her fiancé, Liam Hemsworth. “I was an adult when I was supposed to be a kid. So now I’m an adult and I’m acting like a kid,” she says. There are times when I’m sitting in my big ole house and I’m like, ‘I can’t believe I’m allowed to be here alone.’ ” (She and Hemsworth have been reportedly on and off and back on, but she declines to talk about their relationship. She will, however, say that she still plans on getting married. Eventually. “I definitely don’t have time to deal with a wedding right now. But I will at some point.”) She bought a car, a white Maserati with a Ferrari engine, and built a skate ramp in her backyard because she was too famous to go to the skate parks in her neighborhood. “I want my house to be the party house!” she says, flashing a big smile lined in bright-red lipstick.
On the point of partying, Cyrus brings up Justin Bieber, whose teenage rebellion is in full stride (as evidenced by the monkey incident and naked YouTube serenades). She wants to elaborate on the advice she recently gave him: “I’m not saying you need to take a break because you’re crazy. I’m saying you need to take a break so you can be crazy, and people aren’t going to judge you. You’re going to do dumb stuff from here on out. But do it in your own time. Do it safely. You can afford to protect yourself and still have fun.” She likens it to celebrities who get arrested for drunk driving. “Why don’t they just get a driver?”
Blinged out, blindingly platinum, and with that banging body on display, it’s clear that Cyrus is in the driver’s seat of her new image. Take the much buzzed-about music video for her hit “We Can’t Stop,” which shows her cavorting erotically with life-size plushy toys. “We’re in a world of selfies,” she says of the unconventional glamour shots in the video. “I told my label: ‘This is the first time I’m showing you what I’m bringing to the table as an artist. If this goes wrong, you never have to trust me again. I’ll be your little puppet. But if I’m right, then you know I’m on to something.’” In fact, she was on to something—the video racked up almost 11 million views on its first day on Vevo.com.
Her ability to twerk, a slang term for hip-hop’s brand of booty popping, debuted in the video too. Cyrus says she learned to twerk when she’d travel to Atlanta from her native Nashville and go to parking-lot dance-offs with girlfriends. They’d listen to music at tailgate parties and practice gyrating their bottom halves. “Not the country girls who are wearing the little frilled skirts and cowboy boots,” she adds. Suffice it to say, she’s not trying to tread on Taylor Swift’s turf. What’s Cyrus’s country niche? “There is no girl out there speaking on behalf of the country girls who are turnt up.”
While Cyrus is bristling with attitude, she’s kept her feet on the ground paved by her famous father. “My parents always had money, and I’ve always been around this industry, so I didn’t have my mind blown or become obsessed with being famous,” she explains. Before moving, at the age of 13, with her entire family to L.A. to film Hannah Montana, she lived on a 500-acre farm where the children could do whatever they wanted. Her new California life wasn’t that different. “When I was growing up, I didn’t even notice that I started making all this money. There’s something about new money that makes people change. But I never did not have [money]. So when I got it, I didn’t become obsessed with having it.”
She trusts her instincts, and runs with a discreet crowd. “The other day I saw that Lindsay Lohan was getting rid of, like, 80 of her friends because she wants to cut out the toxic people. I’m like, ‘Honey, you’re going to have to move out of this universe because everywhere you go there are toxic people.’?” Her best friend is her makeup artist, and most of her friends aren’t famous—and are boys. She likes when they ask to drive her Maserati, and she lets them.
Her makeover mentor and album coproducer is Pharrell Williams, who had two hits of his own this summer. (You’d have to be living under a rock to have missed his “Blurred Lines” with Robin Thicke and “Get Lucky” with Daft Punk.) “His philosophy is that it’s not what you’re wearing, it’s the way you wear it. It’s not about the music you’re making, it’s how you’re making it.” She says he encouraged her styling in the “We Can’t Stop” video too. “I feel like every girl is trying to have a beauty shot and prove that they’re ‘fashion.’ But I can be in white leggings and a white sports bra and I’m on a whole other level of shit that those girls don’t even get yet because they don’t know how to do it.” Cyrus calls Williams her “rock,” the one man she can trust with her music.
He is equally effusive about Cyrus, who left a lasting impression on their first meeting. “I remember saying she was different,” Williams recalls. “She was very clear as to what she likes. I kept thinking, ‘She’s got something.’?” What was it like to work together on the new album? “She has a crazy range like you wouldn’t believe. And I really like that she is expressing herself.” He’s not worried about her falling off the deep end either, like so many other child stars. “It has a lot to do with her parents and the way she was raised,” says Williams. “There’s a thing Southern people understand that’s hard to put into words.” Maybe it’s just that: Even though Miley’s a second-generation performer, the Cyruses still aren’t showbiz people.
To that end, she’s put acting on the back burner for now. “I don’t really care to do anything acting-wise,” she says. “I want to make all of my music videos so epic that it feels like I’m still involved with acting.” Hannah Montana may have burned her out. “I had to have [the producers] put sun lamps inside because I was getting depressed from a lack of vitamin D,” she says of the show’s last two seasons, after the franchise expanded into films and world concert tours.
Miley has dabbled in fashion too, but she wasn’t completely fulfilled. She inked a deal with Walmart in 2009, then became disillusioned when the line didn’t turn out as she’d hoped. “I went in there and saw, like, a puppy on a T-shirt. I was like, ‘This is not what I wanted.’ I wanted skinny jeans, I wanted to bless Walmart with jeggings!” (Walmart discontinued the line in 2012.) She says she loves jewelry and would consider doing that, when she has time: “Making real stuff with high quality. Not quantity. But not until I know I can give it 120 percent. I don’t want to just slap my name on something.”
All that’s left is Miley and her music. Which turns out to be the one thing in her life that’s not stressing her out. (In addition to her own reportedly rocky relationship, her parents separated and then reconciled this summer—another topic she’d rather not discuss.) “I’m someone who cares about the real things in life. There are things that are personal that stress me out, but my career? That doesn’t affect me. I know I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.” She lifts her fingers, which are tipped with long dagger nails and stacked in gold rings, and pushes her platinum bangs out of her face. “I’m not scared of anything.”
Miley and Cara backstage at Marc Jacobs’ fall 2013 fashion show in New York
The American version has the bob. But in Italy, they have an ethereal fall of long, blonde tresses. I’m referring to the editor of Italian Vogue, Franca Sozzani, a woman whose steely blue eyes, curly yellow locks and understated Italian glamour have reigned the Conde Nast publication for decades. Last week, she brought her brand of glamour to the cash-rich Middle East capital for a multi-tiered extravaganza of emerging fashion and traditional Italian entertainment. There was a fashion show, a Fashion’s Night Out-style party in the world’s largest mall, and then an outdoor – yet still air conditioned – black tie dinner with performances from celebrated Italian ballet dancer Roberto Bolle and the opera singer Vittorio Grigolo. Joining Franca were many of the Italian fashion industry’s biggest luminaries, including Donatella Versace, Roberto Cavalli, Dan and Dean from DSquared2, and Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci. Tipping the scales on the ultimate in fashion glamour? The legendary Naomi Campbell.
But first, I’m compelled to mention Mohamed Alabbar, the chairman of the Emaar Properties, who was Franca’s partner in this venture. This Dubai local – which are few and far between as only 10percent of Dubai’s population is actually from there – worked his way to the top of the corporate ladder to become the corporate head of this lucrative territory, and the man responsible for the world famous Burj Khalifa, currently the tallest building on the globe. It also holds the record for the fastest built, as well as the record for highest dining experience. On our first night, we ate at Atmosphere, the building’s restaurant at a mere 125 floors.
“Modern luxury is giving back.” That was Franca’s battle cry at this event, which combined her desire to expose new talent from the Middle East to the Western world as well as raise funds for Dubai Cares, the charity initiate founded by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. So, on a sunny day (but aren’t they all?), we all met at the Dubai Mall, the largest in the world, for a show from designers from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Nigeria, Ireland, Italy and Russia. (My favorites? Iteun Basi from Nigeria and Ireland’s Simone Rocha.) Then, a gala for 400 on the terrace: Vittorio sang and the fountains exploded, Roberto danced when the buildings in the distance were illuminated for effect. The tables were under the night sky, but individually air conditioned from below, which blew my mind. There was an auction too, which had a few akward moments: Turns out that even though they’re rich, the Arab people aren’t as showy with their public displays of philanthropy as we may see back in New York. Somehow, though, Vittorio managed to sell the sweaty shirt off his back for $40,000, which was added to a pot that topped a million dollars for Dubai Cares.
The night ended at the Armani nightclub with Roberto, Franca’s son Francesco Corrizzini and Vittorio all dancing without their shirts on while standing on the back of a banquette, Franca and the lovely Afef Jnifen flanking them with big smiles on their face. Naomi too showed some prowess for the dance floor, pulling a few moves with Roberto when we got back to the hotel. (Scroll down to the pictures below for evidence of this supermodel’s dance skills.)
My last few days were spent in the desert, which was a wonderful and surreal experience. Less than an hour from the luxury that was the Armani Hotel, the concert and steel world stops and there is nothing but sand as far as the eyes can see. The sun set into long pools of pinks and reds and blues and purples. I made friends with designers Louis Leeman and the boys from Aquazzura, who joined us in the desert, and we drank red wine and rode camels. After dinner, the obligatory belly dancer came out – but this one had a real smile on her face. She was good, she made us happy. (I’ve seen a few belly dancers in my days, and there really is nothing sadder than a belly dancer who is just calling it in.)
This was my first time in Dubai, and I left with an endeared impression. The people I met were fabulous and open-minded. They knew about art, fashion and perfume, the last of which I thought a few of them abused. Ha! I went back my hotel room energized – perhaps a little too much so. On my last night in Dubai, I couldn’t fall asleep before my 6am flight. (An avid reader of this blog will see that in the past few weeks I’ve crossed the Atlantic four times, so it’s not surprising that my poor body clock is a little out of whack.) So, I drew a bath and watched the sun rise over a city that didn’t exist when I was born. The light rose on buildings that glimmered with ambition and a new Arabic Dream. And I thought to myself, When am I coming back?
Captions, from top: Roberto Bolle during his performance on the terrace of the Burj Khalifa; me with Riccardo Tisci and Naomi Campbell; Franca Sozzani and Roberto Cavalli; Karolina Kurkova at the dinner; Vittorio TK during his opera set; Naomi, Riccardo and Roberto after the gala and outside the afterparty; Gianluca Passi, my tablemate; Afef Jnifen and Eva Riccobonno, the mistresses of ceremonies; Roberto taking Naomi for a dip; Mira Duma and Karolina Kurkova at Atmosphere, the highest restaurant in the world; Eva Cavalli at her impromptu birthday celebration; me, Roberto and Gianluca; Naomi, spinning us round and round; Eva at the Armani nightclub; an imposing view of the Burj Khalifa at night; on the drive to the desert for a sandy safari; dinner in the dunes; an onyx at sunset; the end of a perfect day; a belly dancer; me and a fire extinguisher, which I thought was the funniest thing to see in the desert; Edgardo and Erika rolling around in the sand; dancing in the dunes; the parking lot; a glorious morning in the Middle East